Vandals struck a historic altar at Oak Flat, a site used for centuries by Apache peoples for prayer and ceremonies and one that is now at the center of a battle over a proposed copper mine.
It was the second time in three years that the altar was damaged and the leader of the grassroots group that has led the fight against the mine said he fears more such attacks against both cultural sites and people.
During an emotional call to The Arizona Republic Thursday evening, Wendsler Nosie, the head of Apache Stronghold, likened the destruction and desecration to similar attacks against places of worship, including the 1963 Birmingham church bombing which killed four school-age girls.
“We’re in a war against what’s evil in the world,” Nosie, the former chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, said in a tearful voice. “This is like where in the South where they burned down churches.” He added that religious people across the U.S. should be alarmed at this and other such attacks against houses of worship.